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Posts tagged: Immigration

Eight migrant kids from border surge have come to sponsors in Idaho; Otter not happy

Eight migrant children from Central America apprehended at the Mexican border already have been sent to Idaho, according to a U.S. Health & Human Services report quoted late yesterday by the Associated Press, though they’ve gone to sponsors, not to state custody; that means they’ve been taken in by relatives, family friends or foster parents.

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter, who yesterday sent a letter to top federal officials declaring that the Gem State won’t take any of the unaccompanied minors who arrived illegally at the southern border as part of a surge of tens of thousands, wasn’t happy about the report. “Assuming this report is true, HHS has not provided any information  about this nor did it go through any of the established channels  to inform the Governor’s Office that this was happening,” Otter’s press secretary, Jon Hanian, said in an email.

“We are working now to determine the veracity of this report. Should it prove to be true, it underscores the importance of the letter the governor released yesterday putting the federal government on notice, that Idaho will not be used as a staging area or a destination for the crisis the federal government has created. Just as troubling is the fact that they are ignoring states and the impacts associated with placing these undocumented migrants without the knowledge or consent of state governments.”

The report cited by the AP said 269 children from the border surge have come to Northwest states between Jan. 1 and July 7 of this year – 211 to sponsors in Washington, 50 to sponsors in Oregon and eight to sponsors in Idaho. The U.S. Office of Refugee Resettlement has the data posted here. Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber released a statement saying his state welcomes the children and that the border surge was a reminder of Congress’ failure to enact immigration reform. “These children are fleeing their homelands because of overwhelming violence and economic hardship, and they do not deserve to become political fodder,” Kitzhaber said.

Jaime Smith, spokeswoman for Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, said today, “There are more than 200 children who have been placed with sponsors in Washington state. These are children who have seen and experienced traumatic violence and disruption in their communities. The federal government has identified care givers, some of whom are family members, who have agreed to take these children in. This is clearly an improvement over holding children in detention facilities. Our state will provide the support and services they need as they await their court proceedings.”

Otter fires off letter to feds saying Idaho won’t take any immigrant kids captured at southern border

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter today fired off a letter to three top federal officials declaring that he wants “to immediately eliminate the chance of the federal government using Idaho as a destination or a staging area for the influx of unaccompanied and illegal immigrants entering the United States through our southern border.” There was no indication that Idaho – which borders Canada, not Mexico – had been targeted for any such use; the governor’s office didn’t immediately respond to an inquiry about that.

Otter, in a letter he also copied to the four members of the state’s congressional delegation, wrote, “It should be understood that the State of Idaho and its subdivisions will not be actively involved in addressing the humanitarian crisis the federal government has created. Idaho will not open itself to the unwelcome challenges with which other states have struggled at the federal government’s hands.” You can read Otter’s full letter here.

Otter’s letter was addressed to U.S. Health & Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services director Leon Rodriguez. 

Boise march, rally today to focus on immigration reform

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Labor and immigration activists are expected to rally and march in Boise in support for an overhaul of the nation's immigration system. The demonstration Wednesday is part of the May Day rallies planned in cities across the country, where demonstrators are demanding changes in the federal government's immigration laws. Activists are expected to meet at Julia Davis Park in downtown Boise before marching a half-mile to the state Capitol. More than 200 people have indicated they plan to attend the rally on a Facebook event created by the Coalition for Immigrant Rights of Idaho, a group pressing for changes in the law. Participants will begin gathering in Julia Davis Park at 4 p.m., where music and speakers are planned, before a “Family Unity March” to the state Capitol at 6.

House passes STEM jobs bill, but it’s not expected to be taken up in Senate

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: WASHINGTON (AP) ― The House has approved legislation to offer green cards to foreign students with advanced degrees, but only after a partisan fight that portends trouble when Congress attempts a wholesale immigration overhaul next year. In approving what is called the STEM Jobs Act on a 245-139 vote, Republicans who control the House were signaling Hispanic voters who abandoned them in the election that they're serious about fixing the flawed system. The bill passed Friday would provide 55,000 permanent residency visas to foreign students with advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. But it drew fire from Democrats because it would kill a program that helps less-trained people from Africa and elsewhere gain entry to this country.

Click below to read Labrador's news release on the House vote; you can see his floor speech here in favor of the bill, in which he compares himself to Charlie Brown and the Democrats to Lucy, saying they keep pulling away the ball in a game of political football over immigration reform.

Labrador on piece-by-piece immigration reform: ‘If we don’t do it this way, it’s never going to get done’

Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador has his STEM jobs act up for a vote again in the House today, after it failed in a September House vote; he was interviewed by NPR's Renee Montagne about it this morning. The bill would replace the current diversity visa program, which grants 55,000 immigration visas a year through a lottery, with one targeting those completing post-graduate degrees in science, technology, engineering or math fields. “The diversity visa doesn't make any sense for the United States for the problems that we have today,” Labrador told Montagne. “We need high-skilled workers.”

Labrador said President Obama has come out against his bill “because it is not part of a comprehensive immigration reform plan.” He said, “If we do a comprehensive package, what you're going to have is a bill that every single member of Congress hates a certain aspect of it, and no one is going to vote for it. Let's start with the easiest thing first. … If we don't do it this way, it's never going to get done.”

Montagne asked Labrador about the Dream Act, which would allow young people brought illegally to the country as children a way to stay legally in certain circumstances, and Labrador said, “That should be the next thing we work on.” You can listen to the interview here, and read more here on today's vote from the Washington Post, which reports that the bill is likely to pass the GOP-controlled House, but not be taken up in the Senate.

Labrador tells GOP to reform immigration or give up on ever winning presidency

Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador says the Republican Party will never win the presidency again unless it can attract Hispanic votes, and he said that requires action on immigration reform. Idaho Statesman columnist Dan Popkey reports that Labrador made the comments at a Capitol Hill news conference Wednesday sponsored by a group he co-chairs, Conversations with Conservatives. “One of the main reasons that we lost is because Romney got 27 percent of the Hispanic vote,” Labrador said. “If we continue to get 27 percent of the vote for the rest of our lives, we will continue to lose every single presidential election that’s out there.” You can read Popkey's full report here.
  

High court issues rulings on Arizona immigration law, Montana campaign finance law

The U.S. Supreme Court is issuing major rulings this week, but it now appears it won't issue its ruling on the federal health care reform law until Thursday. This morning, the high court ruled on the Arizona immigration law, overturning much of it, but upholding the controversial provision requiring police to check the immigration status of someone they suspect is not in the United States legally. That decision upholds the “show me your papers” requirement for the moment, but it takes the teeth out of it by prohibiting police officers from arresting people on minor immigration charges, the Associated Press reports; you can read a full report here at spokesman.com, and read the court's full three-page decision here.

Also this morning, the high court struck down a Montana law limiting corporate campaign spending; the case was seen as a test of the 2010 Citizens United decision that opened the door to unlimited independent campaign expenditures by corporations. It was a 5-4 decision; you can read a full report here at spokesman.com, and read the 76-page full court decision here.

Idaho was one of 22 states that filed a brief in support of Montana's law, even though Idaho has no state laws restricting corporate campaign spending. Idaho allows direct corporate giving to campaigns, and unlimited corporate independent expenditures on campaigns, but does subject corporations to the same contribution limits to candidates as individuals, and requires reporting. The state Attorney General's office said Idaho weighed in on a state sovereignty basis, seeking to protect state authority.

Labrador: Obama immigration move ‘blatantly political’

Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador, an immigration attorney who touted his expertise on the issue as he ran for Idaho's 1st District congressional seat two years ago, blasted President Obama's announcement today of a major change in the nation's immigration law enforcement: Young illegal immigrants will be able to avoid deportation if they can prove they were brought to the United States before they turned 16 and are younger than 30, have been in the country for at least five continuous years, have no criminal history, graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED or served in the military. They also can apply for a work permit that will be good for two years with no limits on how many times it can be renewed.

“Our nation's first commitment must be to follow the rule of law and this action by the president bypasses the existing legal process,” Labrador said in a statement. “President Obama had two years in the White House to move immigration legislation through a Democrat-controlled House and Senate and he failed to do so. There are many Republicans in Congress who have been working to fix our broken immigration process. Instead of joining them to produce legislation in a constitutional manner, the president acted unilaterally in a blatantly political manner.”

Click below for a full report on the president's announcement from the Associated Press in Washington, D.C.

Idaho Supreme Court: Send child to dad in Mexico

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) ― The Idaho Supreme Court ordered a 3-year-old girl in state custody be delivered to her father, a Mexican citizen who has never met his daughter because he's legally barred from entering the United States. The justices ruled Thursday a lower court erred when severing the man's parental rights last December. The man married an Idaho woman in 2007 while living illegally in the U.S. He returned to Mexico under court order, with his wife, in 2008 but she soon went back to Idaho, giving birth. The state took custody of the baby months later, citing neglect. Both parents' rights were terminated at the state Department of Health and Welfare's request. When reinstating the father's rights, the high court questioned the department's motives, noting an employee wanted to adopt the girl.

You can read the full court decision here; click below for a full report from AP reporter Jessie Bonner.

Politico: Labrador could be GOP’s ‘credible face for immigration reform’

Politico yesterday took a look at Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador as a possible “credible face for broader immigration reform” for the GOP. Reporter Marin Cogan writes, “Wading into the tricky politics of immigration reform would seem to be a dead end for any Republican these days — let alone a conservative freshman from Idaho. But Rep. Raul Labrador, a Puerto Rican-born former immigration lawyer and overnight tea party darling, is doing just that — meeting with Republicans and conservative opinion-makers to try to build a 'conservative consensus' to the seemingly intractable problem that defied a national reform effort nearly four years ago and still roils the political landscape on a state level.” You can read the full article here.
  

Immigration sweeps round up 13

Here’s a news item from the Associated Press:  IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) — Federal immigration officers arrested 13 illegal immigrants across southern Idaho last week and all but one are expected to be immediately deported. The Post Register reports the Boise office of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested 10 men and three women in a four-day sweep that ended last Friday. Seven people were arrested in Idaho Falls, with one each in: American Falls, Firth, Hamer, Lewisville, Shoshone and Sugar City. ICE spokeswoman Lorie Dankers says 12 have final orders of deportation. One man was turned over to the Bonneville County sheriff’s office for an outstanding arrest warrant on battery charges.

Idaho joins appeal on Ariz immigration law

Idaho has joined Michigan in a “friend of the court” brief siding with Arizona in its appeal from a federal judge’s initial ruling invalidating portions of the state’s far-reaching immigration law; 11 states have now joined in the appeal. Gov. Butch Otter said, “It’s our affirmative duty to protect states’ rights, and that’s particularly important when a lawsuit seeks to punish a state for doing what the federal government has failed to do – protect our borders and American citizens.” Click below to read his full news release.

Report: States rethinking immigration legislation after Arizona court ruling

USA Today reports that state legislators in an array of states - including Idaho - are rethinking plans to introduce Arizona-style immigration laws after a federal court temporarily blocked the core of the law. Among state lawmakers quoted: Idaho Senate President Pro-Tem Bob Geddes. The newspaper reports that he “says his colleagues had planned to file an S.B. 1070 replica but are making changes. ‘I don’t know that we would cut and paste exactly what Arizona has, based on what the judge has already ruled,’ Geddes says. ‘That doesn’t help us much to engage in the same battle that Arizona has lost.’”

Immigration raids nab 22 in Magic Valley

A federal immigration “enforcement surge” across the Magic Valley area has resulted in the arrest of 22 immigration violators, including two who now face federal charges in Idaho. One of those two had previously been deported four times, and also had been convicted of cocaine possession. Six of those arrested had criminal histories, from drug possession to theft to domestic violence. Fifteen, including those six, had previously been ordered deported. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement “fugitive operations teams” based in Boise and Salt Lake City made arrests starting Tuesday in nine Idaho communities including Burley, Buhl, Castleford, Hailey, Jerome, Rupert, Shoshone, Twin Falls and Wendell. Most of those arrested were from Mexico; there also was one each from Nicaragua, Honduras, Peru and Russia.

ICE spokeswoman Lorie Dankers said the two “most egregious violators” will be charged in federal court in Idaho with illegal re-entry after deportation. The other 22 are in ICE custody, where they’ll either face an immigration judge or be deported. “ICE is committed to smart and effective immigration enforcement that targets individuals who pose a threat to public safety,” said Steven M. Branch, field office director for ICE’s Enforcement and Removal Operations  in Idaho.  “ICE is committed to identifying those who come to the United States, commit crimes and blatantly disregard our nation’s laws.”

The immigration issue…

A white paper from Boise State University’s public policy center, which analyzed the results of immigration questions in the most recent statewide BSU Public Policy Surveys in 2006 and 2007, found strong concern among Idahoans about illegal immigration: 54 percent said undocumented immigrants reduce the overall quality of education for Idaho children; more than 50 percent said Idaho should deny indigent medical care to undocumented immigrants; and 68 percent supported adopting an “English only” policy for the state. Boise State Public Radio interviewed Professor Greg Hill about the research this morning; you can listen to their story and see the white paper here.

At the same time, a new report from the L.A. Times notes that when the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit last week to stop a far-reaching Arizona immigration law from taking effect it said immigration policy is a national responsibility and “a patchwork of state laws will only create more problems than it solves,” but according to experts, that’s what we already have, with states enacting 333 immigration-related laws and resolutions last year, up from 32 in 2005. You can read that story here at spokesman.com.

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About this blog

Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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